Hurricane Maria: How rural Utuado, Puerto Rico, survived isolated after the storm

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Thursday, September 20, 2018
How one rural town survived isolated after Hurricane Maria
After Hurricane Maria washed out the main bridge into town, Utuado residents had to build a makeshift zip line to ferry supplies across a raging river.

UTUADO, Puerto Rico -- After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year, residents in one rural area were so isolated from the rest of the island that they began to refer to themselves as Campamento los Olvidados (Camp of the Forgotten).

Flash flooding from Rio Abajo destroyed bridges leading into Utuado, leaving dozens of families with no connection to the outside world. The National Guard didn't arrive until October 6, but by then, the residents had helped themselves, they told AccuWeather.

It took months for the government and the military to fix the bridges leading into town, so residents got creative with what they had on hand. They used a shopping cart to create a makeshift zip line that could pass supplies, food, water and even people across the river.

The main bridge into town wasn't repaired in March, six months after the storm hit.

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People walk next to a gas station flooded and damaged by the impact of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
Carlos Giusti/AP Photo